Newswise — Could something as simple as caffeine be the female version of Viagra?

Maybe, according to research published in a forthcoming issue of Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior. The research was conducted by Fay Guarraci, an assistant professor of psychology at Southwestern University, and Stacey Benson, a 2005 Southwestern graduate. Their study, titled "Coffee, Tea and Me: Moderate doses of caffeine affect sexual behavior in female rats," is the first to examine the interaction between caffeine and sex in females.

Guarraci and Benson gave 108 female rats a moderate dose of caffeine before a mating test to determine if the caffeine had any effect on female mating behavior. They found that administration of caffeine shortened the amount of time it took the females to return to the males after receiving an ejaculation, suggesting that the females were more motivated to be with the male rats.

While it is tempting to speculate that caffeine exposure could also affect sexual motivation in other female mammals such as humans, Guarraci cautioned that may not be the case since most humans consume moderate doses of caffeine on a daily basis.

"These rats had never had caffeine before," she said. "In humans, it might enhance the sexual experience only among people who are not habitual users." Guarraci said, however, that the study should add to our understanding of the relationship between the brain and behavior.

"Understanding the circuits that control this behavior will help us understand how the brain works and what part of the brain mediates motivation because sexual behavior is a motivative behavior," she said.

The study can be found online at Guarraci also presented the study at the recent meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

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Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior